At the headquarters of the Party for Independence and Work (PIT), in Dakar, this evening of August 27, the silence is cold once the door is crossed. The sadness can still be seen on the faces of activists who leave their meeting room while whispering. And for good reason: the historical leader of the formation, Amath Dansokho, died August 23 from an illness. Major figure of the Senegalese policy since independence in 1960, the man was of all the fights and participated in the two alternations in 2000 and 2012.
Left-wing activist from an early age, he discovered Maurice Thorez at the age of 14 and joined the youth of the Senegalese Democratic Union. The reading of the Son of the People accentuates his interest in the policy that President Senghor had brought to his home. The young boy then gives him a real admiration. During the legislative elections of 1951, he does not hesitate to dry his courses to follow the campaign. The adventure will however be brief because the young Amath Dansokho is more and more sensitive to nationalist ideas and social justice.Read also Senegal: Minister Amath Dansokho dies, former major opposition figure
His first participation in a parade of May 1st took place in 1954, in support of the independence of Vietnam. And since the creation of the African Party for Independence (PAI) in 1957, Marxist-Leninist trend, he took his membership card. Very quickly, he opposed the colonial power by organizing a strike in his high school in Saint-Louis. He thinks that independence will go through armed struggle. In 1959, the student, who continues his studies at the University of Dakar, goes to Guinea-Conakry to recover weapons sent by the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) through Frantz Fanon, confided-t he in 2012 during a long portrait devoted to him on RFI. His party goes into hiding a year later. Accused of insurrection against the Senghor regime in 1964, its members are sentenced.
Exiled for thirteen years
There followed an exile of thirteen years for Amath Dansokho. "He always refused to talk about the difficulties of this period. It only evoked the formative side, " says Ibrahima Sene, his party friend with whom he has been traveling since his debut. The young activist finds refuge in Havana where he befriends Josephine Baker, Bamako, Algiers, Prague or Moscow and prepares for the revolution. In Mali, in 1964, it is Che Guevara in person who offers him a text of Régis Debray. The Afro-Asian solidarity economic seminar, organized the following year in Algeria, participates in its formation. With this experience, he returned to Senegal in 1976, which is experiencing a gradual opening to multiparty politics. The PAI is then recognized. It will be divided five years later when President Abdou Diouf decides to abolish the limitation of the number of political parties.Read also Disappearance of Senegalese Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO for 18 years
Amath Dansokho then founds the Party for Independence and Labor (PIT) with other communist militants. He campaigned for the movement Sopi ("change" in Wolof) Abdoulaye Wade in the presidential election of 1988. Charismatic, "he harangued the crowds during demonstrations on the Obelisk," recalls Momar Gueye, historian. Support that will earn him a few months in prison with Mr. Wade during the post-election crisis. But in 1991, he rallied the Socialist Abdou Diouf and became Minister of Housing and Urban Planning (1991-1996). However, his freedom of tone and his criticism against the management of the Head of State cost him his job.
He is back in the opposition. And if his party does not weigh on the political chessboard, the communist knows how to mobilize around him. "He knew how to resound like a storm to say no and like a trumpet to gather in combat," sums up the journalist Ousmane Sene. Along with other leftist parties, Amath Dansokho is organizing an alliance around Abdoulaye Wade, the Front for Alternation (FAL). The meetings are held at his house where the opposition meets spontaneously.
Against the authoritarian drift of Abdoulaye Wade
"It was a man of heart and who liked to receive," says Samba Sy, secretary general of the PIT. If only his living room could talk. In the privacy, there was a lot of bargaining, " he recalls, moved. "The headquarters of the opposition was finally home. As in 2011, when political leaders agree to participate together in the demonstration of 23 June against the change of Constitution wanted by President Wade, " recalls the human rights activist, Alioune Tine.
Because if Abdoulaye Wade won the presidential election of 2000 and then appointed Amath Dansokho minister, the agreement between the two men will be short-lived. Only a few months after taking office, Amath Dansokho is dismissed for his opposition to the new power he will fight the authoritarian drift. In 2010, he will give the head of PIT to the academic and politician Maguette Thiam. However, he participated in the 2011 protests to drive away Abdoulaye Wade, and the coalition that brought Macky Sall to power. Thus, Amath Dansokho has rallied and fought all the regimes in power since the 1950s.Read also In Senegal, an opponent, very critical of the power of Macky Sall, arrested for "insulting the head of state"
But since this second alternation in 2012, the virulent exits of the legendary outspoken leader had diminished. "We did not hear about the Karim Wade affair, which he said he loved as his son, nor about the Khalifa Sall case with which he walked in 2011. Not publicly, at least. Maybe he did it in privacy, or was it due to his health, " says the historian Momar Guèye . However, Amath Dansokho still had plans: he wanted to "go around Senegal to meet the people," says Samba Sy. A wish left unfinished for this eternal opponent, disappeared at 82 years. Buried in Saint-Louis he preferred to his hometown of Kedougou, in eastern Senegal, a vibrant tribute was paid to the lifting of the body, August 25.
Salma Niasse Ba (Dakar, correspondence)